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What 2017’s Influx of Drug Approvals Means for Chemistry

2017 was the biggest year for new drug approvals in two decades.

The FDA approved 46 novel drugs – those with a unique chemical structure – to go to market in 2017, the most in 20 years. Many of the drugs were specialty drugs, designed to treat common chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

What does the surge in drug approvals in 2017 mean for approvals in 2018 and beyond? And just as importantly, how will all these new drugs impact the American chemicals industry?



Pharma and Chemicals: Inextricably Linked

The fate of the U.S. chemicals industry is irrevocably tied to “Big Pharma,” and vice versa. High-purity chemical compounds are the building blocks of every modern drug, so as new drugs are approved, the need for source materials increases. New drug approvals mean a surge in pharmaceutical order filling and batch processing as the drugs are prepared for market, and these orders affect secondary chemical needs, too, such as for the chemicals required to produce plastic pill bottles and specialized medical testing equipment for diagnoses. New drug approvals almost always result in a direct, measurable boon for the chemicals industry as a whole.


New Approvals Means Research Must Pivot

The drug approval process is long and arduous. Thousands of people can be working on the research behind a singular drug; when that drug is finally approved by the FDA, researchers inevitably move on to new projects. The field of medical research should be expected to shift significantly in 2018 as biotech companies and internal R&D departments pivot their efforts to new diseases and drugs. As a general rule, the chemicals required for research must be of extremely high quality and purity in order for researchers to produce reliable, repeatable results.


Faster Approvals Require Streamlined Supply Chains

The FDA has shown a significant effort to encourage the rapid development of potentially game-changing drugs in the area of cancer treatment, specifically. A dozen of the new drugs approved in 2017 were oncology related. The FDA takes an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to drugs with a so-called BTD, or Breakthrough Therapy Designation; as new BTD drugs are developed, approval timelines will continue to be shortened. Faster turnaround for drug companies correlates directly with a need for streamlined supply chain logistics; chemical procurement is one area in which drug companies do and will continue to rely heavily on partners who prioritize efficiency.

Noah Chemicals is proud to supply chemicals to some of the most innovative drug companies on the planet. From university-based research programs to niche biotechnology firms, we applaud the tireless work of individuals who are determined to find cures for some of the most prolific illnesses in the world.


Noah Chemicals focuses on high-purity chemicals for applications such as research and pharmaceutical production. For more information on how Noah’s solutions could instantly improve your process, reach out to our experienced team today.

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